Small Wind Turbines in Illinois
Kendall County, Illinois
Gary Kizior installed a 10 kW Bergey turbine in December 2002, replacing his old Whisper 3 kW machine. It sits on the same 80-foot tip-up tower that Whisper machine used. This project was half funded by the Illinois Renewable Energy Resources Grant Program and was among the first small turbines in the state to receive a grant through this program.
Gary chose a Bergey Excel 10 kW generator with a 23-foot diameter rotor because it had a reputation for quality and being low maintenance. There are no regular lubrications required and he anticipates very low costs for upkeep and repair in the future. The turbine cost approximately $20,000.
Gary applied to the Illinois Department of Commerce for funding in July of 2002. Two months later he learned that his application had been approved and after submitting some additional paperwork he received his check in a few weeks. Wind turbines from 5 kW to 200 kW currently are eligible for grants for up to 50 percent of the hardware and installation costs through this state program.
This project took advantage of the exemption from zoning restrictions for agricultural projects in agriculturally zoned areas of the state of Illinois. This is a low-hassle route for farmers interested in small wind turbines.
Gary has a wind anemometer mounted 65 feet off the ground on the 80-foot tower. Data collected last year showed the annual average wind speed at this height to be 9.5 miles per hour. However, according to Gary, 2002 was a lower than average wind year, especially during the winter. The Bergey Windpower website has a calculator designed to model cash flow and payback periods for Bergey products. The calculator shows that an average annual wind speed of 9.5 mph will yield a yearly production of 7,923 kilowatt-hours, or an average monthly output of 660 kilowatt-hours. This figure is based on an open site for the turbine free of obstacles to the wind. Gary's site and electrical configuration produces a little bit less than this estimate. He uses a transformer and existing inverter to charge batteries at the same time. These both consume power and reduce the amount he can sell to Commonwealth Edison through the company’s net metering program.
Gary reports that he is saving approximately $500-$600 per year in electricity costs. ComEd reduces his monthly bill by the avoided cost rate (approximately $0.02 per kilowatt hour) for the energy that he generates. Then at the end of the year ComEd calculates the total amount of electricity he used and amount of electricity he generated at the summer and winter peak and off peak rates, resulting in ComEd sending a check for the additional amount. In the end, he will average closer to $0.09 per kilowatt-hour for the electricity he offsets by generating his own power. Simple payback on such a system is 15-20 years, after the grant award. This payback is for the turbine only; Gary used an existing tower and electronics and the cost of those is not included in this analysis. Bergey advertises their turbine and inverter as $22,900 and an 80-foot tower that tips up is $8,400. Labor would cost extra if you don’t do all the work yourself.
This project demonstrates one of the best scenarios available for landowners interested in buying a small turbine in Illinois. Gary was able to use both of the state’s strongest incentive programs for small wind turbines: ComEd’s net metering program and the state grant program. Illinois residents outside ComEd’s territory might still be eligible for the state grants if they live in the service territory of another investor owned utility. However, they will not be eligible for net metering and could only expect to receive the avoided cost rate for their excess electricity. Receiving roughly $0.02/kWh rather than closer to $0.09/kWh would significantly lengthen the payback period for the turbine.